Item description for Tolkien and Modernity 1 by Weinreich Frank...
The current volume, being the first of two dedicated to 'Tolkien and Modernity', grew out of the wish to further the exploration of Tolkien as a 'contemporary writer', i.e. an author whose literary creations can be seen as a response to the challenges of the modern world. It comprises papers that focus on the following themes: Tolkien and the 20th century, feminist theory, time, creativity, and freedom. Although one could argue that most of these topics have been discussed since the beginning of literature, it is with the shaping events of the first half of the 20th century - the World Wars, Einstein's theory of relativity, totalitarianism and the atomic bomb - that they gained a new and immediate relevance.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.5" Width: 6" Height: 0.7" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Sep 29, 2006
Publisher Walking Tree Publishers
ISBN 3905703025 ISBN13 9783905703023
Availability 130 units. Availability accurate as of Oct 25, 2016 03:03.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Tolkien and Modernity 1?
A Solid and Worthwhile New Collection Jan 3, 2007
First, the disclaimer: the comments in this review pertain to Volume 1 of this two-volume publication. I haven't read Volume 2 yet. Also, full disclosure: I am a contributor to Volume 1, but I will refrain from commenting on my own chapter ("'Man does as he is when he may do as he wishes': The Perennial Modernity of Free Will").
That being said, Tolkien and Modernity 1 is an interesting and generally well-rounded collection of essays in which the various contributors work to come to terms with the titular subject. Some essays argue that Tolkien is representative, to one degree or another, of modern elements, while other essays say just the opposite. Also, the editors, Thomas Honegger and Frank Weinreich have, as they say in their introduction, taken a "light editorial hand" to the contributions, which really allows the voices of the individual authors to come through (sometimes a little too much, in my view, especially in the cases of authors whose first language is not English). I think this is a laudable approach, and the editors have done a fine job with the collection.
Some comments on specifics essays in the collection ...
Anna Vaninskaya's "Tolkien: A Man of His Time?" offers a generally very good survey of how Tolkien is situated among his contemporaries in the burgeoning development of modernism. I was a little surprised to see the omission of James Joyce in the discussion (though Vaninskaya's comments about George Orwell are quite insightful -- and there is a chapter in Volume 2, by one of the book's editors, that discusses Joyce), but one simply can't cover everything in a single chapter. The essay also takes the less common approach of examining Tolkien through "analogues rather than sources", with generally very solid results.
Maria Raffaella Benvenuto's essay "Against Stereotype: Éowyn and Lúthien as 20th-Century Women" isn't particularly ground-breaking -- we feel as if we've heard this argument before, with its inevitable nod to Freud -- but it is well argued and worth reading nonetheless.
Like the preceding chapter, Laura Michel's "Politically Incorrect: Tolkien, Women, and Feminism" covers a lot of already well-paved ground, discussing the charge of sexism all too often made against Tolkien. The chapter is made stronger by Michel's discussion of the lesser known tale of Aldarion and Erendis ("Unfinished Tales"), but for my taste, it would have been stronger still without the section on the Peter Jackson film adaptation, which struck me as more or less irrelevant to the central question.
Shifting gears, the next essay in the collection is Bertrand Alliot's "J.R.R. Tolkien: A Simplicity Between the 'Truly Earthy' and the 'Absolutely Modern'". Here we have a rather ambitious, if generally somewhat vague, argument -- but one that, in the end, fails to convince. I would raise objections, in fact, as to the validity of some of Alliot's assumptions (upon which premises he bases much of his argument) -- for instance, that the "ancient way of being-in-the-world" was substantially 'simpler' than in Tolkien's day. This, of course, depends entirely on what one means by 'simplicity'.
Jessica Burke & Anthony Burdge's chapter, "The Maker's Will ... Fulfilled?", poses many an interesting question, and generally answers them all, or suggests directions for further inquiry. I think that, for my own taste, they relied a little too often on very lengthy block quotations -- I would have rather heard more from *them*. But the essay tackles the complexities of sub-creation effectively -- though, once again, I could have done without the asides on the film adaptation.
Finishing up, I would observe that the quality of the physical book itself could have been better. It was produced by a Print On Demand shop, and it rather looks it. The blinding white paper is somewhat difficult on the eyes, and the font choices left room for improvement. The cover could have used an illustration of some sort (although all the Walking Tree titles look like this), or at least, some color. Also, the index (a welcome inclusion) could have been more attractive; it looks rather like something dashed off with a Microsoft Word macro (and it may well have been). Still, much better to have an index than not to, and from my spot-checking, it appears to be accurate -- the most important quality in any index.
In the end, I feel this is definitely a volume worth putting on your bookshelf, even if it may not be the most attractive one there. The cover is, or should be, the least important quality in any book, and it's really the contents that count.